Skytrax (originally known as Inflight Research Services) is a United Kingdom-based aviation research and consulting company that conducts customer surveys on airlines and airports and publishes reviews and awards. Its World Airport Awards began in 1999.
Surveys are conducted online. There are millions of responses each year. Suspect or duplicate entries from the same IP address are rejected. The survey for the 2020 awards was conducted in English, Spanish and Chinese between September 2019 to February 2020. More than 100 customer nationalities participated.
In 2020, the survey consisted of nearly 40 questions asking people to rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 5. Topics included airport accessibility, staff friendliness and language skills, waiting time at security and immigration, terminal appearance, comfort and ease of navigation, and services such as restaurants, lounges, showers and hotels.
The World’s Top 10 Airports in 2020
- Singapore Changi Airport
- Tokyo Haneda Airport
- Hamad International Airport (Doha, Qatar)
- Incheon International Airport (Seoul, Republic of Korea)
- Munich Airport
- Hong Kong International Airport
- Narita International Airport (Tokyo, Japan)
- Central Japan International Airport (Nagoya, Japan)
- Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
- Kansai International Airport (Osaka, Japan)
Notice any trends? All but two of the top 10 are in Asia. All of them are relatively new or have had major facilities built in the last 15 – 20 years.
Surveys are always subject to being skewed by methodology, sampling errors or other things. Nevertheless, to my mind, Skytrax did a great job of identifying the best airports in the world. Over the years, I’ve flown to and/or from all of the airports ranked in the top 10 except Munich and Central Japan International, seven of the airports ranked 11-20, and six of the airports ranked 21-30. The full rankings for the top 100 airports are here.
While I might rank an airport 5 rather than 6, for example, I generally agree with the rankings. Tokyo Narita is the only airport I’d remove from the top 10. The fastest way to get there from central Tokyo (the train) takes an hour. That is a big downside. I’d move Narita into the second 10 and replace it with Zurich (No. 11).
The top rated airport in North America is Vancouver at No. 13. Houston George Bush Intercontinental (No. 31) is the top rated U.S. airport Lima (No. 44) is the top airport in South America. Cape Town (No. 24) is the top airport in Africa. Melbourne (No. 17) is Australia’s top-rated airport.
Skytrax also rates individual terminals within airports. It publishes only the top 10. Here is that list for your information.
- Seoul/Incheon T2
- Singapore Changi T3
- London Heathrow T2
- Paris Charles DeGaul T2-M
- London Heathrow T5
- Munich T2
- Singapore Changi T4
- Tokyo Haneda International Terminal
- Guangzhou Baiyun T2
- Madrid Barajas T4
Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX is the best International terminal in the U.S. in my opinion.
The results of the survey for the 2021 awards should be announced in a few weeks. It will be interesting to see if the results are affected by Covid-19 and the opening of new airports and facilities including Beijing Daxing International Airport, Berlin Brandenburg Airport and Shanghai Pudong Satellite Terminal. The 2021 survey includes questions about social distancing, availability of hand sanitizer, and staff use of face masks and other personal protective equipment.
Do the ratings for 2020 agree with your travel experiences? What would you change, if anything?